Breakdown: The Washington Redskins have a chance to get off to a good start with winnable games in the first two weeks before starting a potentially difficult stretch. They need to generate momentum in those first two games or another tough season could await. The final seven games after the bye week will be interesting as well. Tampa Bay could be a surprise team and that's followed by road trips against NFC heavy weight San Francisco and AFC contender Indianapolis. That means we'll go from a Colin Kaepernick vs. Robert Griffin III storyline to one about Andrew Luck vs. Griffin. And Griffin is not a fan of talking about such matchups. But at least the Redskins get to finish with consecutive home games. And the fact that they play all their prime-time games in the first eight weeks followed by six 1 p.m. games in the final eight weeks suggests the NFL isn't confident a hot start will equal a strong finish. Then again, they can always flex. But most teams coming off a 3-13 season do not get so many prime-time matchups. Griffin's potential re-emergence and an offense that could be high-scoring will make for entertaining viewing.
Complaint department: One thing that jumps out right away is playing Seattle on a Monday night followed by a West coast trip to Arizona. The Monday night games always take a little more out of players, as does a long trip. They also have four road trips in five games (with a bye mixed in), starting with a Monday night game in Dallas. And if you want to stretch it further, it's five road games out of seven. The brutal part is playing at San Francisco and then at Indianapolis. But the other road games are winnable. However, those two home games in that stretch, against Tampa Bay and St. Louis, could be tricky. Those teams might be better than people think.
Early success a key: Despite the complaint department, there's a lot to like about this schedule for Washington, starting with the opening two weeks and the closing two weeks. A chance for a good start and a strong finish. And that's especially true in the division. Washington did not win a game in the NFC East a year ago, but the Redskins have two divisional games in the first four weeks and then finish the year with three straight. Washington can not only get off to a good start overall, but also re-establish itself in the NFC East. And if they need to make up ground late, they should have that ability. While Philadelphia will enter the season as the divisional favorite, it's still hard to say how big the gap is between the Eagles and everyone else. Last season the Eagles rode a good start to a division title. The Redskins will have a chance for that good start. They must take advantage.
Redskins Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, at Houston, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 25, NY Giants, 8:25 p.m.
Week 5: Monday, Oct. 6, Seattle, 8:30 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, at Arizona, 4:25 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Monday, Oct. 27, at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, St. Louis, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, at NY Giants, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 20, Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, Dallas, 1 p.m.